What spine development will look like at 4 devicemakers

News & Analysis

Since September, spine and orthopedic devicemakers have provided a glimpse into the next stages of technological developments.

Johnson & Johnson is planning to develop its own spine robot to rival the platforms launched by Medtronic, Globus Medical and emerging device companies, company executives said Sept. 7 during the 2022 Wells Fargo Healthcare Conference. The spine robot comes on the heels of the success of the company's Velys system for total knee replacement. While a timeline wasn't specified, one executive said "three important innovations" are expected to reshape the company's spine portfolio "in the next couple of years." 

Stryker is working on more applications for its flagship surgical robot, CEO Kevin Lobo said in an Oct. 31 third-quarter earnings call.  In the coming years, the Mako robot will also be used for spine and shoulder surgery. Mr. Lobo did not say when Mako shoulder and spine would be ready, but he said he "wouldn't expect it next year." He added that progress on the spine application is ahead of schedule, while the shoulder project is a bit behind.

As Globus Medical's robotic footprint grows, the medtech company has its eyes on augmented reality in spine surgery, executive vice president and CEO Dan Scavilla said in a Nov. 8 earnings call. Mr. Scavilla discussed the future of the Excelsius robotics and imaging platform, saying the company plans to "evolve and add" to it. 

"I think the closest to come out that will be a significant differentiator is going to be our XR headset or augmented reality," he said. "With that, we're going to actually shift how procedures are done, [and] add a great deal of value to the surgeons." 

NuVasive is honing in on "intelligent surgery" and extending the capabilities of its Pulse platform for spine procedures. In the third quarter, Pulse was used in its first case at an ASC and for the first time in Australia during the third quarter, CEO Chris Barry said in a Nov. 9 earnings call.

"Outcomes will improve when clinical decisions are fact based and not subjective, and enabling technology supports this focused effort. To achieve better outcomes, we must help surgeons identify whether a patient is an appropriate surgical candidate, what the right procedure is for the patient, will it lead to the patient's desired outcome, and whether the surgeon achieved that intended outcome. To do so, we need to provide data and advanced planning preoperatively."

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